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Special Interest Group Archive: Leadership SIG 5/3/2023

These are the notes from meetings dating back to 2015.

May 3, 2023

The group met via Zoom on Tuesday, May 3, 2023 and was led by Kristin Charles-Scaringi of Howland Public Library


How do you lead when you’re burnt out?  Is it the library field or everything?

  • Everything! Especially COVID
  • Rise in book challenges
  • First Amendment audits
  • Compassion fatigue
  • Vocational awe – library work generally good work
  • More mental health issues
  • People angrier/impatient in general
  • High demands on public libraries    
    • Handing out COVID test
    • Registering patron for free COVID tests
    • Notary services

How do you deal? How do you combat burnout?

  • Take a 30-minute walk at lunch
  • Have lunch in your car instead of in the library
  • Leave the library building at some point during your day
  • Take a personal/mental health day
  • Talk to peers/like-minded people
  • Compartmentalize
    • Give yourself a time limit before and after work to think about work, then let it go.

What do you wish people had told you about the field before you entered it or before you went to library school?

  • Library school will NOT teach you everything you need to know
  • You need excellent customer service skills

What is the most stressful part of being in this field?

  • Fears about the future of libraries
    • Funding
  • People have no idea how library funding works
  • People have no idea what we do
    • Your job must be so relaxing!
    • It must be nice to be able to read all day!
  • People have no idea what libraries offer
  • Being in charge
  • Conflict
  • Banning patrons
  • Old guard/new guard way of approaching library work
  • Enforcing policies

How do you set a positive tone? Do you put on a brave face? Are you honest?

  • Chat with co-workers 
    • alk about projects your still passionate about
    • Talk about what co-workers like
    • Keep it light
  • Research interesting things related to library work
    • New studies
    • Subjects of interest
  • Try to focus on the positive
  • Use a fidget or a stress ball
  • Surround yourself at your desk with things you love
    • Photos of family
    • Plants
    • Items that make you happy
  • Share with staff when patrons say they are doing a good job or that they’ve had a good experience at the library
  • Send positive emails to staff
  • Make jokes
  • Continual education
  • Fun staff activities
    • Guess the staff by their baby picture game

What do you do when leaders/admin of the library are more empathetic than the staff?

  • Training
    • Ryan Dowd
    • Mentoring

What are some suggestions on how to make sure staff takes what secondary supervisors say seriously (that what they say isn’t optional)?    

  • Regular staff meetings
  • Staff evaluations/goal setting/expectations
  • Clear communication from the director and secondary supervisors
  • Organizational chart/person in charge (PIC) list
    • Make sure that it is a clear chain of command by the director
    • Make sure that it is in the library policy

Articles and studies: 


  • How do we recalibrate and keep moving forward? 
  • Does anyone have any tips on how to combat burnout? 
  • What do you wish people had told you about the field before you entered it? 
  • What is the most stressful part of being in this field for you? 
  • Do you put on a brave face? Or are you honest? 
  • How do you feel about the profession? The future of the profession? 
Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065